I’ll keep this brief. I was an amateur boxer and coach/trainer off and on for many years. I’m going to review famous bouts that many people argue over. In order to stay as acurate in my opinion as possible, I paused the fight midway through each round, typed down my view of the round so far, then finished watching the round and finish my take on it. And before you ask, yes, I was completely sober while writing this. Let’s begin!
The beginning goes as many title-fights go when it’s featuring two highly skilled, highly decorated fighters: slowly. “Feeling each other out” is the term. In fact, Hagler did almost nothing but stalk Leonard to get a read on how he would react with his feet when he advanced. Oh! I had forgotten one crucial factor in the scoring of this fight: Hagler, a southpaw, fights the first two rounds almost exclusively right-handed. I’m too lazy to dig into the why of the matter but needless to say it was to Hagler’s detriment. Leonard dances, lands a few jabs and crosses, nothing too aggressive, but Hagler just makes a halfhearted effort at offense.
Leonard 10 Hagler 9
Hagler begins to advance with purpose and finally starts punching. At first, Leonard and Hagler are unable to connect with any clean punches. Leonard uses his footwork to outmaneuver Hagler and clinch effectively but then Hagler presses the issue and while not landing any meaningful punches, gains the edge through the first half of the round by brawling. The second half of the round Leonard regains his spacing and lands some counter-punches before stealing the round in the last thirty seconds by landing hard jabs, body hooks, and fighting out of the clinch.
Leonard 20 Hagler 18
Hagler finally starts fighting as a southpaw and the difference is notable. Through the first half of the round any exchanges started by Leonard are finished by Hagler. Hagler maintains pressure and keeps landing tightly thrown punches that go unnoticed by the crowd as they roar for Leonard’s deflected punches. Leonard does manage to land about four or five very clean punches in the round, but the pace, pressure and total of landed punches go to Hagler.
Leonard 29 Hagler 28
This time, it’s Leonard who comes out of the corner with purpose. He quickly finds his spacing, and easily slips most of Hagler’s punches while slipping in himself to land hard single shots and quick flurries. He also gets away with a low-blow but to me it was clear Leonard won the round easily.
Leonard 39 Hagler 37
Hagler and Leonard spend most of the first part of the round staying near each other and exchanging punches. Leonard surprisingly gets a little flatfooted and stops dancing, yet, he keeps his body angled sideways for the most part, lands the cleaner, quicker punches, and has the advantage. After that, Hagler tightens up his guard and begins to *walk through Leonard’s punches(*take the punches off his guard, and risk getting hit to close the distance), landing many solid shots and working Leonard into the ropes. Hagler does enough to reclaim the round.
Leonard 48 Hagler 47
Hagler initiates the exchanges immediately. He lands clean, hard, single shots with all four punch types within the first minute while also wrangling Leonard around the ring to keep pressuring him. The first half of the round is a classic example of how to fight “pressure-in” by Hagler. Stay inside the arms of a dancer so he can’t fully extend on his punches and counter with good footwork. Force him to brawl while you grapple, lean on, push, and land hard single shots to weaken the body and slow your opponent’s feet. Basically, be a bully. Leonard lands a few punches and outperforms Hagler in the last minute, but it’s not enough.
Leonard 57 Hagler 57
This round begins with a touch more hesitation by Hagler after an initial lunge and Leonard takes the opportunity to land a few quick shots. Then Hagler begins working inside again and scores a few shots of his own, landing a couple flurries and forcing Leonard into the ropes. But this time, Leonard does a good job of counter-punching and works his way out. The round is a draw at the midway point. Neither can land cleanly, but Hagler keeps forcing the action and then starts scoring on hard single shots. Leonard again finds his spacing and starts to score with hard shots and a few combos of his own. Hagler gets the last ten seconds, but I can’t give the round to either one clearly. Side-Note: I’m a firm believer that in order to win the round, you need to win the fucking round, even if it’s only slightly. I won’t steal a point away from a guy just cuz. This is where I deviate from most judges sitting ringside. Anyway, draw.
Leonard 67 Hagler 67
A few exchanges are attempted but nothing meaningful happens. Then they stop the fight because the tape on Leonard’s glove splits. They fix the glove, fight resumes, then Hagler spends the next minute slightly outboxing Leonard by doing a more cautious version of walking through your opponent’s punches, yet still lands the cleaner shots. Leonard regains his composure and lands several clean single shots and small flurries. Hagler neutralizes Leonard’s attack by again closing the gap and landing shots of his own during the last forty seconds. Despite Leonard landing the more crowd pleasing punches, Hagler quietly scored punches more consistently through the round.
Leonard 76 Hagler 77
Leonard begins the round strong by finding the sweet spot where you’re just inside the opponent’s range, enticing them to punch so you can hop outside and then hop back in after they miss to score hard crosses and three punch combinations(classic counter-punching). A great fighter can then stay inside and bob and weave off the opponent’s attempted counters to score more shots before working their way back out of range, and Leonard was great. He controlled the first minute easily but Hagler absorbs those shots and presses in to land some clear scoring shots himself and forces Leonard into the ropes. Leonard works his way out but quickly takes more punches and again gets cornered. Halfway through, slight advantage to Leonard because he clearly controlled more time. Then the highlight reel begins. Hagler continues to hit Leonard in the corner. Increasing in confidence, he begins to throw multiple flurries, landing a lot of shots. However, once he gets set, he’s flatfooted, and Leonard works out of the corner. Then Leonard starts landing combinations of his own. The fight shifts back to the center of the ring where Leonard’s faster hands and feet are at optimal advantage. He easily scores and avoids punishment for thirty seconds, taking the edge in the round. But Hagler settles down and slightly outboxes Leonard the rest of the way. Both fighters were exhausted. I apologize for the length of this portion, but it was possibly the best round of the fight, both from the viewpoint of an ex-boxer/geek and from the casual fan’s. Overall, I think the time was split in regard to control of the round, but Leonard’s time was more one-sided.
Leonard 86 Hagler 86
The first half of the round is a tale of two tired men, understandably so. They kept their discipline and continued to fight but nobody landed noteworthy blows or gained an advantage. If anything, I’d give Hagler this portion by the thinnest of margins because he landed about four or five uncontested, yet weak, shots on Leonard near the halfway point. Hagler then imposes his will on Leonard with solid body shots in the clinch, Leonard finds a way to counter, landing impressive shots to even the round, but Hagler lands more punches during the last thirty seconds. This was hard to score…Hagler by a nose-hair.
Leonard 95 Hagler 96
Another close beginning. Both fighters missed early but managed to score a few one-two combos halfway through, no clear advantage for either fighter. Hagler manages to maneuver Leonard into the ropes and scores punches, but at this point there’s not much force behind them. Leonard works his way out, showboats, and lands nothing. The crowd is thrilled*eye-roll*. Leonard lands a few more solid single punches but Hagler gets close and lands about four left hooks in a clinch, then another shot after the break. Leonard shows some guts and instigates the exchanges, but Hagler responds to his shots with counters. Advantage, Hagler.
Leonard 104 Hagler 106
I think both fighters believed that they had won the fight going into this round. Hagler gave a professional effort and continued to fight his fight. Leonard, however, went into celebration mode after landing a six punch combo. And to be fair, Hagler did nothing noteworthy to erase Leonard’s bravado after that. It was even outside that combo. Round goes to Leonard.
My Final Bout Card
Leonard 114 Hagler 115
Skip to the thirteen-minute mark to bypass the bullshit.